Monday, March 23, 2015

Wknd Box Office: Divergent Series: Insurgent, The Gunman, It Follows, Deli Man

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Wknd Box Office: Divergent Series: Insurgent, The Gunman, It Follows, Deli Man

By Debbie Schlussel
Nothing I can really recommend that’s new today at movie theaters:


* “The Divergent Series: Insurgent“: This is the second installment of the dull Hunger Games rip-off, The Divergent Series. I didn’t like the first one much (read my review), and this one is only slightly better. Like the first one, this is long, slow, and boring. But at least there’s more action and special effects. Still, the movie is confusing and pointless.
And at the end, we learn that all the killing and animosity between various factions of humans was just “an experiment” performed by humanitarians. Really? This is what passes for humanitarian only in place like Iran. By the way, if you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s for two reasons. First, you need to have seen the first installment of this movie series to understand what’s going on in this boring, blah, dystopian world. Second, I saw the first movie, and I still didn’t really know all of what was going on. It’s confusing. And it’s hard to remember a first movie from over a year ago that was so boring I struggled to stay awake.
Also, the acting in this movie stinks. The vastly overrated Shailene Woodley’s version of acting is speaking through her nose and at the edge of her gravelly throat. All I can hear throughout is her real-life bragging about how she likes to eat clay. Her lesbionic haircut doesn’t help things. Two of the leading males in the movie have both played her lovers in recent previous movies, including the guy who plays her brother in this one. Come on, Hollywood, come up with some new casting choices AND new storylines beyond dark, dusty futures where kids must kill to survive.
The story: in dystopian America, the humans who are left are divided into a few groups, according to their personalities and are taken from their parents to be raised and trained by their groups. But those who cannot be neatly put in one group and show multiple traits are called “Divergents” and considered to be a danger to society. Tris (Woodley) is a Divergent on the run with fellow Divergents. They are being sought out for death (and first, for experiments) by the evil dictator, Jeanine (Kate Winslet).
Ho hum. Who cares?
Watch the trailer . . .

* “The Gunman“: This long, slow, boring, incredibly cheesy movie is Jeff Spicoli’s, er . . . Sean Penn’s attempt to become an aging action hero a la Liam Neeson in the “Taken” movies. But it and he fail miserably. The story is stupid and nonsensical, and, um, it’s Sean Penn, so it’s laughable. The movie was co-written and produced by Penn, and it shows. It’s utter crap and not the least bit interesting. I struggled to stay awake. I also felt I was stuck in a 1990s time warp as this movie seems anachronistic and at least two decades behind the times in terms of presentation and storyline (hey, just like Sean Penn’s real-life mindset).
Also, I think the purpose of this movie was for Sean Penn to show us multiple gratuitous shots of his buff chest without his shirt on. But if I wanted to see that, I’d watch “Magic Mike.” Nobody wants to see this grizzled old man shirtless. He looks like a caricature of what Jeff Spicoli used to be, complete with a corny scene of Penn surfing and running to land from the crashing waves. The overstuffed Penn physique looks comical, like Hans and Frans found an extra “pump you up” bodysuit and put Spicoli into it. I couldn’t stop laughing. Spicoli at 70 ain’t pretty (yeah, I know Penn is only 54, but he looks 74.) Watching Penn repeatedly sucking the face of his love interest in public and then having stupid sex with her, I felt like I was watching a nutty old uncle with no edit button. Eeeuuw. No thanks.
Iran-lover Penn plays a hitman for some private outfit, which is now stationed in the Congo. He is assigned to assassinate the country’s mining minister for a private client. Eight years later, he is trying to live a new life doing humanitarian work, digging wells for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the Congo, when armed men try to kill him. The rest of the movie, Penn travels to England and Spain, seeking out the identity of his would-be assassins and their reasons, which are never made clear. And, frankly, I didn’t care. You won’t either.
Throughout this unbearable waste of time, I kept thinking about Sean Penn’s character (and the actor himself), “Just Die Already!” Sadly, the actor is still with us and lives another day to make yet another bomb.
High-quality Gitmo torture material.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “It Follows“: Oy vey, what utter dreck! I hate-hate-hated this movie, subsidized by Michigan taxpayers via the abominable Michigan Film Tax Credit. Billed as a “horror movie” or “thriller,” it was neither scary nor thrilling. Just a long, slow, dumb, utter bore. Apparently, the purpose of this movie was for some immature writer, director, and casting agent to get to see a lot of nude actresses and actors and then ask them to have sex. Um, don’t we already have plenty of that? it’s called, “porn.” Yup, this movie is Exhibit A of why taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for Hollywood-wannabe’s trash. It’s time for clean-up in Aisle Eight, and fortunately, it looks like the film subsidies will soon get the ax. Should’ve happened long ago. Oh, and did I mention this movie features the feel-good mother-rapes-her-son scene of the year?
The “plot” (if you can call it that): a college-aged girl has sex with a guy she just met. Then, he ties her up in a chair and tells her she’s just been invaded by a monster or evil spirit or whatever he means by “it.” And the only way for her to get rid of it is to have sex with someone else right away to get rid of it. Instead, she doesn’t do much and she starts seeing weird ghosts walking around. Then, she decides to have sex with two different guy friends, but it doesn’t help get rid of the demons. The end.
And can you believe that a bunch of idiotic movie critics liked this absolute crap?
Why must Michigan taxpayers pay for this turd-fest? A hundred minutes of my life I’ll never get back. The only thing I liked about this movie was the ’70s(or ’80s)-style synthesizer soundtrack.
Yup, yet more high-quality Gitmo torture material.
Watch the trailer. . . .

* “Deli Man“: I thought I would really like this because I love delis, I’m a foodie, and am interested in Jewish culture. But I didn’t find anything new or interesting in the documentary, save for the fact that there were more Jewish generals in the Confederacy Army than in the Union one during the Civil War. That fact, mentioned in the movie, wasn’t worth sitting through this to find that out, as I have a whole library shelf full of history books on Jews in the Civil War I should be reading instead. The movie was relaxing filler–empty calories you might sit through if you have nothing better to do. But I don’t think I’d pay ten dollars to see it. I didn’t come away from it with anything. In fact, it was kind of pointless.
Usually, a documentary has a point of view or tries to shed some light on something interesting. I didn’t find that here. Instead it was a smorgasbord of unnecessary and mostly obvious information on delis. The movie occasionally, through different speakers, laments the dying out of the American deli, and tries to claim it as some form of Judaism and Jewish culture and food. But, actually, there is nothing really Jewish about deli food at all. Jews in Europe and the Middle East did not eat this kind of food. Delicatessens became a mainstay of Jewish immigrants to America, as they were poor and with limited time while working at sweat shops and factories in New York in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. They went to delis for a quick, cheap meal. While many in the Yiddish-speaking culture ate at delis and many delis were operated by Jews (and occasionally Jewish and Yiddish words made their way onto menus), there is nothing distinctly Jewish about delis.
The only distinctly Jewish thing about the Jewish people is the Torah and the Jewish law that derives from it. And, yet, most of these people involved in delis are JINOs (Jews In Name Only) who don’t cling to the Jewish religion at all but cling to these foods that have no meaning and no staking claim in Judaism throughout its thousands of years of existence. They are what I call, “Jews In Food Only”–the liberal, self-hating Jews who brag about their latke recipes on Chanukah but eat ham and cheese sandwiches and won’t condemn Palestinian terrorism in unelected positions in the Detroit Jewish community, for instance (yes, there is a woman who exemplifies this). They loved knishes, but more important–and very damaging to the Jewish existence–they love Obama and Hillary more.
I noted that in this deli movie as I note in real life, most delis are not kosher (they pretend they are this fictional phrase, “kosher-style”; kosher is not a style, it’s a Jewish dietary law–either you are kosher or you are not). And most delis are open on Jewish holidays. The deli owner who is the focus of the movie–David “Ziggy” Gruber, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, third-generation deli operator, and owner of Kenny & Ziggy’s Deli in Houston–thinks he is still connected to Judaism because he serves chopped liver in the style of his grandfather. Yet, the movie celebrates his marriage to an Irish Gentile woman as somehow carrying on the deli tradition and, thus, the Jewish tradition. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. It ends Judaism in his line of descent (though it appears that Gruber’s own mother may not even be Jewish, which would mean that neither is he). The food he serves doesn’t do a damned thing to change that. (I was surprised that he could not even correctly pronounce the word, “challah”–the name for the Jewish braided loaves of bread we traditionally eat on the Sabbath and holidays.)
Here’s a tip for David Gruber: serving–or even eating–pastrami on rye doesn’t make you a good Jew or even Jewish at all. Anyone can eat that, and deli food is popular with many, regardless of faith. Again, the one thing central to Judaism is belief in and observance of the Torah. Perhaps the disappearance of the American Jewish deli is symbolic of American Judaism as American Jews intermarry, embrace secularism and liberalism, and disappear from Judaism altogether.
According to the movie, at one time there were at least 1,500 delis just in Manhattan alone (and not counting the many more in New York’s five boroughs). Now, the movie claims there are fewer than 150-200 in the entire country, and only five in Manhattan, one of them kosher.
The movie seems only to focus on “authentic” delis as Judaism. But delis aren’t authentic Judaism. Not even close.
Chicken soup with matzoh balls and lukshen kugel are very tasty, and like many other ethnicities and religions, food does play a role in Jewish culture. But it is a minor role. Good food is neither the legacy of Judaism nor the key to the long-term survival of the Jewish people.
The death of delis in America is not the tragedy in Judaism, the death of Judaism in America is the tragedy.
Watch the trailer . . .

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